Wednesday, October 1, 2014

UPDATE: ACHD Doesn't Vote to Reconsider Engineers' Bike Lane Plans

Posted By on Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 3:46 PM


During a scheduled Ada County Highway District Board of Commissioners meeting, the ACHD did not bring to a vote a request by Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan to reconsider a bike lane stakeholder group proposal for designated bike lanes running down Capitol Boulevard.

In order for a bicycle artery to run between Boise State University and City Hall, ACHD engineers will have to return to the drawing board to refigure the widths of traffic, bus and bicycle lanes, as well as buffers painted buffers between them.

The ACHD balked at the original bike lane plan because it narrowed some general traffic lanes to 10 feet—too narrow, its members said, for Capitol Boulevard; though members of the Boise City Council said during their Sept. 30 meeting that 10-foot-wide traffic lanes would organically slow traffic on Capitol Boulevard, decreasing the need for police speed enforcement on that road.


The Boise City Council has rejected ACHD's latest revised plan for bike lanes on Capitol Boulevard at a work session the afternoon of Sept. 30.

CORRECTION: A new proposal, put before the Boise City Council, would eliminate six inches from the bike lane on Capitol Boulevard between Main and Idaho streets, as well as a 1.5-foot buffer between the bike lane and a bus parking area. On Capitol Boulevard between Grove and Main streets, a two-foot buffer between a dedicated 17-foot bus lane and general traffic would also be removed. Both the amendments to the original stakeholders' proposal would widen general traffic lanes from 10 feet to 11 feet.

A new proposal, put forth by ACHD engineers, would retain 11-foot automobile travel lanes down the length of Capitol Boulevard by reducing a 3.5-foot buffer lane between Valley Regional Transit buses and car traffic by two feet. In front of City Hall, a buffer between bike and VRT bus traffic would be reduced and the bus lane itself would be narrowed from 17 feet to 15 feet.

That didn't sit well with members of the City Council, who said that narrowing city streets organically reduced car speeds without resorting to writing speeders tickets, and that in other metropolitan areas, 10-foot car traffic lanes are the norm, not the exception.
click to enlarge Details of a bike lane proposal made by stakeholders to the Boise City Council and the ACHD. - ACHD
  • ACHD
  • Details of a bike lane proposal made by stakeholders to the Boise City Council and the ACHD.

"This is an area where we need to acknowledge that this is an urban area and not a suburban arterial," said City Council Member Elaine Clegg.

The move is the latest in a tense back and forth between the two groups over where and how bike lanes will be installed in downtown Boise. Just last week, the City Council and ACHD held a joint session where they heard an ambitious proposal from an ACHD-convened bike lane stakeholder group. During that session, the City Council voted to encourage ACHD to adopt the stakeholder group's proposal, but the following day, ACHD rejected it on the grounds that it would narrow car lanes along Capitol Boulevard to 10 feet—too narrow for its tastes. 

The ball is now in ACHD's court: At its Wednesday, Oct. 1, meeting, the commission is slated to consider a letter submitted by City Council President Maryanne Jordan formally requesting that it reconsider the stakeholder group's original proposal. If ACHD votes to reconsider the original stakeholder plan, it will return to its in-house engineers to verify its feasibility. If, however, ACHD votes against the City Council's request, bike lanes on Capitol Boulevard won't just be out of gas—they'll be on blocks.

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